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The harem was defined as the woman’s quarter in every Muslim household. The imperial harem, which is also referred to as Seraglio harem was a combination of households of the Queen Mother. Most of harem women lived never to see the Sultan, but instead became servants and their role was to see the daily functioning of the harem. “For over along period of time, women have played an important role in the shaping of societal and family history in different generations and cultures.” Family politics, apart from sex, was the main force behind harem, with both men and women occupying space (Ahmed, 2005). The imperial harem had similar ideas but proved to be more complex. In addition, it was a well organized structure of administration as well as hierarchy.
As opposed to the European harem, where there were increased power signifying increased public profiles, power in the imperial harem had a connection with seclusion. Harem was a demonstration of a single individual being close to the sultan. Women from the royal family had the chance to participate in politics as well because princes and future ruler stayed within the confines of the harem (Ahmed, 2005). In addition, women were seen to have vested interest in their particular families’ affairs, which would interfere with their loyalty to their husbands. Owing to the authority in the harem, women in the harem had the responsibility of ensuring that there was peace and order within the Harem. The female elder in the harem played an important role of teaching and guiding the rest of the family mainly the sons regarding intricacies of state politics. The responsibility played by these women in intervening upon Sultan’s decision is an indication of how important her role was in the society and the family unit at large (Edib, 2003).
Oriental men are portrayed to be aggravated by the fact that they are seen to be traders of female bodies. These men are cruel captors who hold women in their greedy grasp. The captured women are then used as chattels, which are used as trading-goods, with little or no respect for them as human beings. From this view, it is important to bring the clear distinction between the cruelty of the Eastern men and the civilized behavior of the Western men (Rana 1986). In addition, this shows the distinction between the role played by the Eastern women and Western women. The cruelty of Eastern men symbolizes the kind of oppression that their women undergo. Eastern women are taken to be slave signifying their lack of role or place in the society. They are expected to satisfy men’s sexual desires and objects of trade (Rana, 1986). The Eastern women are taken to be slaves and sold in exchange for money. Eastern male do not consider any role played by women in the society as the case is in the harem of the sultan. The western men consider their female counterparts to be of great significance in the society. They cherish their male gentlemanliness and like to share it with their female partners. Western men consider their females to be of great importance in the family and society at large (Rana, 1986).
The harem of Eastern imagination does not give women the right they deserve in the family or the society as they do. Women are sold as slave in public. The dignity of women is lost when they are undressed and their fitness checked in public slave markets. The women slaves are presented to men purchasers who are most likely using them as sex objects (Ferman, 1999). This reality shows the diminished position that women have in the Eastern harem. The girls are humiliated during the tests because it is done while they are naked to impress. This is also another indication that Eastern harem consider women’s role in the family to be minimal and more of reproductive and sexual. In addition, their place in the society is not of any great importance because the slave girls are malnourished being compared to disregarded dog (Mernissi, 1999). Women’s lives are insignificant to a point that they are cheap. The darkness in the painting is an indication of oppression and suffering. The dark background also symbolizes the pain and torture that Eastern women undergo without the regard of their men. The opening into further darkness is an indication of a combination of both hopelessness and helplessness that Eastern women face (Edib. 2003).
According to the reaction of Westerners, this kind of treatment is harsh to the female. Westerners try to indicate that female also have important roles in the society just as their male counterparts. However, some of the Westerners were also involved in purchasing of women to be their housekeepers (Ahmed, 2005). The difference is that Westerner takes considerable care of women compared to the case with Easterners. For instance, Gerard de Nerval claims that his slave requested to be sold to another master hoping for better situations. The woman thus remains vulnerable in every situation because they are left free for abduction (Rana, 1986). In the previous painting, the woman is not attached to anything, this is an indication that Eastern women are not protected by any means and are free to be seized by anyone. The obvious inferiors of women are men, and are mismatched with men in the drawing showing how they are taken to be of little significance in the society (Ferman, 1999). The opinion given by the different authors show that the experience gone through by the women in the East can be compared to one being exiled in torture. The Western women are dependent of their male. Owing to this fact, the romantic dependency that the westerners liked to cherish was a transformed form of Eastern women dependency on Western men.
From the arguments in the text, women are portrayed as a weaker sex, dependent on men. Women are also portrayed to be within a particular cycle of events that they cannot overcome. They are portrayed in a manner that their nakedness is not a sign of any social affront. In addition, their ignorance is within them with none of them being in a position to help the other. Women are kept enclosed in a private space within which they perceive to be protected while not. The events discussed in this text are of great significance. The events discussed bring to light the plight of women in the Eastern world. For instance, from the painting, the voyeurism is an inherent part of the painting. The women are portrayed to be seen while they are blinded. Furthermore, the discussion shows how women are cloned for the benefit of men. The intertwining pictures indicate that they are used to hint at lesbian pictures which are a sign of oppression. The discussion is relevant in the sense that it shows the plight that many generations may be going through, specifically women. Further avenues for the exploration of this matter may be the use of writings that essential in sensitization of the conscience of the men folk towards redressing the inattention of women and their welfare in various societies.